This past weekend we held a Pilates Teacher Training workshop. The topic this month was posture screening and movement assessment. I thought today would be a good day to remind you to stand tall and keep working on your posture. Good standing posture cannot be defined by a rigid formula; it is usually considered to be the natural and comfortable bearing of the body in normal, healthy persons. This means that in a standing position the body is naturally, but not rigidly, straight, and that in a sitting position the back is comfortably straight.
A few disadvantages of bad posture:
- Poor breath capacity
- Uneven wear on bones that can lead to pain
- Sluggish digestive system
- Muscle imbalances that can result in injury
- Inability to move with ease
A few advantages of good posture:
- Increase sense of health and wellbeing
- Less stress on bones and joints
- balanced development of postural muscles
- increased ability to breathe fully
- Maintenance of height
- Keeps the abdominal muscles pulled in
Try the steps below at home. The more you practice these steps, you will find yourself standing in good posture more easily.
Move your weight over tripod of your foot: place one hand on your naval one hand on your lower back. Sway front and back. Feel lower back tighten on forward sway. Feel abdominal muscles tighten on backward sway. Find equilibrium at the point when both front and back muscles are engaged, now maintain this position.
When you are standing, make sure that your knees are soft. Straighten your knees completely and notice how this pushes the hips either forward to back. Now bend your knees slightly and feel the hips become level.
Stand with your hips neutral. With knees soft tilt the hips backward and forward, like a bell. Find the middle and wrap your core to maintain this position.
Ensure that your abdominals wrapped and lifted. Take a big inhale and feel your spine lengthen upward. Now as you exhale wrap your core muscles upward and inward so that you feel like you supporting your rib cage from underneath and like you are tightening your belt.
Try to make sure your ribs “flat” on your abdomen. In your attempt to stand tall and lengthen your spine be careful not to let your rib cage “pop” out.
Stand with your shoulders wide and open: Imagine smiling collar bones or pressing your shoulders toward the side walls.
Place one hand on top of your head, one hand on back of your head. Gently press backward and upward simultaneously as you breath in to create a long neck. Do not tilt your chin, just lengthen upward.
Bonus: The more you vary your standing (or sitting) posture, the less stress you will feel in your body. When you have to stand for long periods of time, try the wide leg stance. It will distribute your weight over a wider base and therefore decrease the pressure in your lower back.